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Government avoids contempt

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Malawi government has avoided contempt of court which could have seen Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka and five others appearing before the Mzuzu High Court on Tuesday, following an agreement for an out-of-court settlement.

Msaka, Secretary for Forestry, Patrick Matanda, and Forestry Director, Clement Chilima, together with Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander, Griffin Supuni, MDF officer a Mr Soko and Raiply Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Oomen, were taken to court for defying an order that was issued on June 23 this year.

On November 25, the High Court in Mzuzu gave additional 21 days sawing consent to Sophilet Chirwa and eight others in the highly depleted Viphya Plantation to clear remaining tree logs but the order was subsequently followed by a directive to the MDF that called for disregard to such court orders.

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In an interview on Monday, Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, confirmed the proceedings will not take place.

“We have resolved that matter and we [government] will not be appearing in court on Tuesday,” Kaphale said but refused to shed more light on the agreement.

Lawyer representing the timber millers, George Kadzipatike, confirmed in a separate in interview the proceedings have been withdrawn by consent of both his clients and government

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“We have discussed with government over the matter and the result of those discussions is that the matter has been settled,” Kadzipatike said.

He, however, said the discussions on matters regarding the timber and equipment still in the forest, some of which were destroyed or taken by the soldiers, are ongoing.

In an MDF communication dated November 24, 2016 titled, ‘Operation Teteza Nkhalango, the MDF instructed its soldiers to remove all illegal loggers from the forest with immediate effect ignoring court injunctions.

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